Tribute to Ralph Gierke, MRSD Board Director
Tribute to Ralph Gierke, MRSD Board Director
Posted on 06/16/2022
Ralph GierkeRalph Gierke, MRSD Board Director, passed away June 4, 2022. “As an educator himself and a long-time MRSD school board member (23 years), Ralph's care for schools, students, educators, and community was robust and unwavering,” remarks Superintendent Mann.

Ralph and his wife, Susan, have been longtime supporters of the Molalla High School Agriculture Program, FFA Chapter and FFA Alumni Organization. Ralph volunteered many hours serving as a judge at FFA public speaking contests, helping students with their Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) projects in outdoor recreation and numerous Alumni events. “His service to our kids and community will be missed,” states Danell Blair-Ocheskey, MHS Ag teacher. 

Ralph’s contributions as a School board member were countless. He was always looking for ways to improve life for kids. He was a participant in the district committee formed in the fall of 2011 to study grade level configurations and the possibility of moving the middle school. He was instrumental in the bond measures that created what is now the Molalla Aquatic Center. He was also one of three board members who pushed to have Native Americans determine for themselves how school mascots should be named and met with officials of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to discuss the issue. He then, along with other board members, went so far as to walk the State Capital, going office to office to talk to legislators about this issue. “Ralph was a great resource for all new people on the board when it came to sharing the history of the school district,” adds Board Director Linda Eskridge.

Ralph, an Army veteran, was also interested in local land use issues, and served on the Clarkes-Highland CPO. He served as the chair of the CPO for many years. In 2020, when Covid came along, Ralph gave up his the chair position, yet continued to serve as vice chair, while his wife Susan was secretary of the CPO.

On his farm in Clarkes, Ralph raised emus for meat, and also raised goats for many years, which he sold commercially. As an avid outdoorsman, Ralph enjoyed whitewater rafting. He guided trips every year and taught the sport to many young people, even into his 70s. Ralph was always quick to joke, and was easy to talk to. He usually let you know how he felt, but he also loved to let others talk. And when they did, he listened. Craig Loughridge recalls, “One of the first conversations that he and I had together was when he came to retrieve an escaped emu from my front yard. We had never met before socially, but after retrieving his emu, he stayed to talk with my wife and I for about half an hour. As his property was only a few properties away from mine, we had many long and wonderful conversations over the years.”

Please join us in acknowledging and thanking Ralph for his dedication to the Molalla River School District. Our hearts are with his family at this time. Our school community is better because of Ralph and his many contributions throughout the years.

Tribute to Ralph Gierke.pdf